Canon’s fifth Insight Report – Building your future with print, which was launched during Fespa 2014 offers an in-depth piece of research commissioned to compare the views of print service providers (PSPs) with print and media buyers and to revisit themes of earlier Insight Reports. Canon’s research reveals that there is much for PSPs to be positive about, but also highlights that, while the majority recognise that they need to change and that their biggest revenue growth over the next five years will be digital colour, they also struggle to identify other new areas of growth and to differentiate themselves.
The survey, which was conducted by an independent market research agency, comprised telephone interviews of 552 senior decision-makers (275 at commercial printers and in-house print rooms and 277 print and media buyers) across a range of industry sectors in 25 countries across Europe, the Middle East and Africa. 80% of print service providers surveyed had an annual turnover of two million Euros or less. 20% had a turnover of more than two million Euros.
The in-depth interviews confirmed that 84% of print buyers still feel that PSPs are meeting their ‘overall communication needs and that 78% believe they are receiving value for money from their PSPs. However, there is also still room for improvement in terms of offering proactive advice and bringing new developments and ideas to the table.
While 46% of buyers foresee that their print requirements are unlikely to change over the next few years, those who do expect to use more printed materials highlight the value that print delivers as a reason to increase their use of printed applications. They believe that print communicates quality, that it is a way of differentiating their companies from their competitors and that it is the most effective way to reach specialist or older audiences.
The report also identifies several areas of difference between PSPs and buyers, but which actually are potential opportunities for business growth for PSPs. For example, print buyers are more aware of digital print applications than they were two years ago, but 31% remain unaware of print-on-demand or short run publications. This is then a clear opportunity for the 62% of PSPs who expect strong growth from print-on-demand and short run business. Similarly, the use of web-to-print services by buyers has grown by over 50% since 2012, yet more than 66% of providers currently do not offer web-to-print services.
Another area of difference highlighted is in multi-channel communications. Currently only 20% of PSPs offer their customers cross media or multi-channel campaign coordination. However, the proportion of buyers now commissioning multi-channel or cross media campaigns has increased from 58% in 2012 to 68% in 2014, demonstrating a growing requirement for these services, especially in the design and delivery of such campaigns. So, even though 55% of print buyers ask their print provider for advice on multi-channel communications, many PSPs have yet to extend their services to meet this demand.
Change and the need for it is a topic also brought to light in the report. In Canon’s 2008 Insight Report, Digital Printing Directions, 72% of PSPs agreed that they could no longer do things as they always had and that they needed to change. Today, that figure has risen to 80%. Of those who agree that change is necessary, most trust their ability to change and adapt, but just need a further motivation to do so. However, despite the fact that print buyers are saying that they want their PSPs to capitalise on the latest technology and applications, offer a wider range of services and to communicate more effectively, the proportion of PSPs who consider themselves to be communications service providers has actually fallen from 54% in 2008 to 46% in 2014.
Considering the number of PSPs who believe that they need to change, it is perhaps surprising that only 48% of commercial printers and 32% of in-house printrooms have a formal marketing or business development plan. Also surprising is that the proportion looking to suppliers for business development support has dropped significantly to 55% since 2008, when the figure was over 75%.
Andrew Harris, European & UK Professional Print Marketing Manager, Canon Europe, comments: “From the feedback we’ve had from print buyers in our fifth Insight Report, it’s clear that many print service providers are doing the right thing to keep their customers satisfied and deliver value for money. It’s also the case though that there are certain areas, such as multi-channel communications, print-on-demand and web-to-print, where buyers’ level of awareness of applications or their usage does not match the estimates or offerings of service providers. These ‘disconnects’ are clear ‘calls to action’ for service providers and present opportunities for getting closer to their customers, while also developing their business.